Palmer Luckey's startup bought an underwater drone company

Anduril is best known for its military tech, but these AUVs can be used for a mix of scientific research and warfare.

Dive Technologies/Anduril

Oculus co-founder Palmer Luckey's startup Anduril has so far focused on above-ground drones and virtual border walls, but now it's ready to go below the waves. The company has bought Dive Technologies, a startup focusing on autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs).

Luckey's firm is already offering Dive's existing DIVE-LD AUV as an option. The customizable drone can handle not only military tasks like anti-submarine warfare and undersea combat zone awareness, but peaceful duties like mapping seabeds and oceanographic sensing. This could be as useful for NOAA and commercial ventures as it might be for the Navy, in other words. Anduril plans to integrate its Lattice OS autonomy software into the "next iteration" of DIVE-LD.

Part of the allure is the manufacturing process. Dive builds the DIVE-LD using a combination of large-scale 3D printing (Large Format Additive Manufacturing) and unique architecture that dramatically reduces the cost and time to make a given drone. It should be more practical to deploy large fleets of drones to monitor underwater areas. Dive chief Bill Lebo noted the Anduril deal would help his team "rapidly scale" to better serve both military and private customers.

The Dive purchase reflects Anduril's own rapid growth. Luckey founded the company in 2017, just months after his ouster from Facebook (now Meta) following a backlash over political donations. Anduril quickly earned business from the US government for its AI-based virtual border wall tech, and by 2020 had a government deal worth hundreds of millions of dollars to install surveillance towers along the US-Mexico border. The startup just recently landed a $968 million contract with US Special Operations Command for counter-drone systems, too. While Anduril hasn't lined up any immediate customers for Dive's expanded operations, it's clearly betting on those clients coming as quickly as they have for above-ground projects.